Emperor Showa Speaks: The Path to War - Part 1 (1928-1937)
Eighty years have passed since the attack on Pearl Harbor led to the start of the Pacific War. It has recently come to light that, soon after Japan's defeat, Emperor Showa spoke at great length about the path to war. This discussion was recorded in the Haietsuki (Records of Imperial Audiences) by Tajima Michiji, the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency. The emperor spoke repeatedly about his regrets over the failure to rein in the insubordination of the Imperial Army that began with the Zhang Zuolin Incident in 1928. In addition, the journals of the emperor's grand chamberlain Hyakutake Saburo were made public in September 2021. The journals record in elaborate detail the emperor's anguish as efforts to peacefully resolve the Sino-Japanese War ended in failure and the conflict escalated into all-out war. These newly available historical documents, coupled with dramatic recreations, are used to examine the decision-making of the emperor and his close aides in the period leading to the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937.